advice appreciated (expert or novice)

advice appreciated (expert or novice)

Post by oliverw » Fri, 18 May 2001 11:30:03



    I will be building a new home soon.

    I have been lurking for a while absorbing as much as my limited capacity
allows.

    I was hoping to get your input on how I can accomplish the following:

    I want complete control of:

 Phone system
Security (including video)
Audio (home theater)
Video (home theater)
Heating and cooling
Lighting
Blinds

    I also would like:

Control via microphones mounted in every room
Control via LCD touchscreens in most rooms (for home theater display,
security cameras, pc software, etc)

    I would prefer something PC based

    I checked into HAL Pro and it seems like it is limited on the video
(home theater) aspect.

    I would also like all my computers networked .

    Am I dreaming? Is it possible?

    Any other ideas for a newbie?

 
 
 

advice appreciated (expert or novice)

Post by Alan McKa » Fri, 18 May 2001 21:24:26


Quote:>  Phone system

The Nortel Networks Business Communications Manager that I help
design could be very easily rigged to be completely controlled remotely
over an IP network.  Actually, I shouldn't say "rigged" because that makes
it sound like a hack - it was designed from the ground up for this.  When
I say "rigged" I mean that you could easily integrate it into just about
anything.

Unfortunately it's out of the price range of most homeowners, and our
"little brother" version which should be in the price range of a lot of
homeowners (though that's definitely not the market it's being
aimed at) still only exists on the drawing board ...

cheers,
-Alan

 
 
 

advice appreciated (expert or novice)

Post by Andrew War » Fri, 08 Jun 2001 09:32:48



>     I will be building a new home soon.

>     I have been lurking for a while absorbing as much as my limited capacity
> allows.

First, unless money is no object, you are going to have to expand
beyond a limited capacity. If you were able to find a contractor who
could integrate all your systems, it would be say, $75K - 150K for
this level of integration by an installer.

Quote:>     I was hoping to get your input on how I can accomplish the following:

I have done ALL that you outlined here. It takes quite a bit of research
and trial & error here. I happen to have a fairly well integrated
home and am satisfied with it for now. I am biased toward my selection
of components & subsystems. There ARE others, some better than mine.
But these are what I have chosen and am fairly happy with them.

Quote:

>     I want complete control of:

>  Phone system

Not sure how you "control" a phone system, you need to be more
specific here.

Quote:> Security (including video)

I have an AMP HMS 1050, also called an HAI Aegis, or more
properly, a Home Systems Plus Aegis. It has two expansion
cabinets for way more zone inputs and relay outputs.

It integrates Security, lighting & device control, annunciation,
and complete programmability. It controls Security, HVAC, Lighting
Blinds, Sprinklers, door locks, and many other devices and X-10
devices. If you are starting with unfinished walls, please please
run a wire from each switch J box back to the central location
your wiring closet.) Even if you go X-10 for the first many years,
this forsight will have a HUGE payoff later.

The HMS/Aegis also has integration with your phone system so
that you can call in or pick up any phone in your home and
control virtually anything and check the status of many things.

HAI is also near releasing a product called Web-Link II that allows
you to control / check status of everything over the net with a
web browser. You will need a dedicated PC for this. It even
handles video streams so you can have security cameras.

Unfortunately they are MONTHS late on the product and there
have been few reviews on it, but it does hold promise "any-day-now."

One thing in your overall system design is to have subsystem
interaction and integration WITHOUT interdependance. In other
words, if your security system fails, your HVAC control should
still be able to turn the HVAC on or off.

Quote:> Audio (home theater)
> Video (home theater)

These two are going to be harder to fully integrate. There are
many IR storage and playback devices that can control devices,
but few of these integrate really well into the HMS / security
systems. Regardless of your choice, you will need to set some
minimal standards for how your AV components behave. Some devices
do not have a discrete ON and OFF IR command and only toggle.
AVOID these components like the plague. The work-arounds are
really bad.

The higher end of the component line, like my Denon AVR-5800
have a serial interface for control by a sophisticated system.

You will encounter a couple names in your search: Crestron and
Phast. These are really * systems, but they make it almost
impossible for an end-user to administer them. They are VERY VERY
expensive, and can be integrated with many sub-systems, but you
lose subsystem independance in many cases. I mentioned previously
that this is an important design goal. They are the only systems
that have well-integrated LCD touch screens.

Applied Digital has some really cool products - The Leopard,
in particular that holds promise. But it is in its first
generation. It is priced very well. It is integrated with
X-10, user programability, IR and a slew of connectable
devices that make it a fantastic product for the HA enthusiast,
but it is NOT elegant like a Crestron. The LCD's are rather
ugly and only big, square buttons can be graphically placed
on the screen. I have one and it is usually reliable, albeit
slow in response. ADI has the MOST potential for LCD control
technologies in the future. They really "get it" in their
product offerings, support, and candor. I am waiting for
a next generation color LCD screen with faster response times.

Quote:> Heating and cooling

HAI does this well.

Quote:> Lighting

You can choose X-10 or something like AMP's ALC (wired) lighting.
If you can afford it, go with ALC or equivalent. One problem is that
noone has produced an X-10 switch that is universally functional and
ergonomically satisfying. They either are not reliable (like Switchlink),
or they are funky (like X-10's that fit in a standard switch slot),
or confusing and non-distinct, (like Leviton). ALL of them are SO BIG,
you need to specially hack metal paster rings to get two switches
side-by-side in a junction box. Why the HECK someone can't fix this
stupid switch problem is beyond me. They all try, but they all
FAILED, so far.

Quote:> Blinds

OK, Great. Several products available here. Avoid the cheaper
products like Drape Boss (out-of-business, but still being sold
by unscrupulous dealers) and Add-A-Motor (usually too weak to perform
consistently). I like Somfey (which I have and like, but they are
expensive). Makita makes some curtain rod motors, but these are
Quote:> $500 ea. They are reliable and zippy, however. There are some

horizontal blind tilt motors available... haven't tried them though.
A couple manufacturers have built-in raise&lower motors. You would
have to integrate them yourself into your HA system... Most have
dedicated IR remotes.

Quote:

>     I also would like:

> Control via microphones mounted in every room

Invest in the BEST automatic mic mixer avaoilable, if you have
ANY hope having a usable system. I have the Shure SCM 810 and
am very satisfied with it along with Crown PZM-11 microphones.

I have 5 rooms integrated and functioning quite well (when
I don't have a cold.)

I have used 2 products: HomeVoice and HAL2000. Forget Hal Pro or
whatever they call it this week. True vaporware. The NEXT version
of HAL, probably out this summer, holds some promise. Get a really
FAST PC however, with plenty of memory. Plan on occasional reboots.
Don't plan on running anything else on the PC, at this time.

I use Homevoice. It doesn't have nearly the features HAL does/will,
but it is a rock-solid product. It is a user-dependant voice
recognition system, and will have to be trained, unkile HAL,
but the reliability is surperb. It integrates perfectly with
the HAI & AMP systems AND produces IR commands for your
AV system. HAL suffers from less intergation with HAI and
Applied Digital products, but the upcoming release will
support the Leopard and its headless brother, the Ocelot.
One problem is that HAL is very defensive about their
products and this often hinders them from really solving
problems.

Quote:> Control via LCD touchscreens in most rooms (for home theater display,
> security cameras, pc software, etc)

>     I would prefer something PC based

>     I checked into HAL Pro and it seems like it is limited on the video
> (home theater) aspect.

>     I would also like all my computers networked .

This is simple.  Get a hub for as many outlets as you want and
get a Linksys BEFSR-41 router/firewall goodie.

Quote:

>     Am I dreaming? Is it possible?

>     Any other ideas for a newbie?

Hope this helps and I hope it serves as my participation
in the comp.home.automation group for this week so SOMEONE
WILL ANSWER MY QUESTION on Xantech Dinky Link / LCD display
problem!!!!!

PS... If you are ever in the SF Bay Area, you can come by and
see all this integrated in my home. I had a guy come over from
Ireland one time!

--
-Andrew

------------------------------------------------------------
    Andrew Ward
ph: 408 527-2773                        |           |
    800.250.4800 ext 72773              |           |  
Public Carrier IP BU                   |||         |||
GSR development group (12000)     ..:|||||||:...:|||||||:..

------------------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

advice appreciated (expert or novice)

Post by Rick Tink » Wed, 18 Jul 2001 10:35:27




(snip)

Quote:

>I have used 2 products: HomeVoice and HAL2000. Forget Hal Pro or
>whatever they call it this week. True vaporware. The NEXT version
>of HAL, probably out this summer, holds some promise. Get a really
>FAST PC however, with plenty of memory. Plan on occasional reboots.
>Don't plan on running anything else on the PC, at this time.

>I use Homevoice. It doesn't have nearly the features HAL does/will,
>but it is a rock-solid product. It is a user-dependant voice
>recognition system, and will have to be trained, unkile HAL,
>but the reliability is surperb. It integrates perfectly with
>the HAI & AMP systems AND produces IR commands for your
>AV system. HAL suffers from less intergation with HAI and
>Applied Digital products, but the upcoming release will
>support the Leopard and its headless brother, the Ocelot.
>One problem is that HAL is very defensive about their
>products and this often hinders them from really solving
>problems.

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew... Why the constant bad vibes towards HAL
buddy?  I mean you claim to be open to give it a fair try, but since
trying it years ago all I read from you are negative comments.

HAL has to be defensive about their software because it is worth
defending!  Since I no longer work for HAL, you can't say that they
are defending it anymore!  It must be defended against people making
claims about it who have absolutely no appreciable experience with it.

Let's get this put behind us once and for all.  HAL shipped the new
version.  Go get it, try it, and start printing fact instead of
perception.  The new, less expensive products HALbasic and HALdeluxe
start shipping as soon as the CDs and packaging arrive from
manufacturing.  Wait for those if you like, but don't talk about HAL
without experiencing the new version yourself.

HAL has won awards at virtually all of the trade shows it has been at
lately, including the "Best of CES" from TechTV last year.  It seems
pretty clear that of all the home automation products out there, it is
the best.  Now it may not be right for somebody who wants to get into
the guts of the thing or as you have asked for several times -- the
ability to do anything and all you can ever ask for -- but it sure
seems to be doing the trick for most of the people who buy it.

Let's get a few other facts down pat:  HomeVoice is dead.  Sorry to
Steve, you're a great programmer and I know you're trying hard - but
truth is that HomeVoice is a one person company and does not have the
resources to do some really great things.  HomeVoice does not allow
you to control your home from anywhere.  You don't even have to spend
$2000 on the good mixer and microphone network to get great
recognition from HAL - just pick up a phone in your house.  Total
cost: $70 modem and the HAL software.  Big deal.  That modem then also
allows you to talk to your house from remote locations - you can't do
that with HomeVoice!  HAL has the Internet, Voicemail, and more
interfaces than HomeVoice too.  Best of all, you DO NOT have to train
it.  What you mention as a means of achieving great recognition is
actually a complete pain in the *for anybody I have talked to that
was honest about HomeVoice.

Let's say you have a fairly average family of two *s and two kids,
and the kids are *agers.  That's four speakers in the house.  Now
then - add a device such as the "Game Room Light".  Assume that you
want to be able to operate the light a couple of different ways - e.g.
"Turn on the game room light" or "Turn the game room light on" or even
"Turn on game room light" if you didn't care about your grammer...  OK
- that's 3 different phrases which have to be trained for 4 different
speakers, which is a total of 12 different phrases that have to be
taught to HomeVoice.  Now then, let's say you want to be able to dim
that same light to, oh, let's say 6 or 7 different levels.  That's an
additional 24 phrases to be taught to HomeVoice at a minimum.
Looking at it from the HAL perspective, you enter the name of the
device "GAME ROOM LIGHT" (or perhaps "Andrews Light" since HAL does
not force you to predefined words), tell the system it's address and
some characteristics about it (e.g. preset dim, extended data, or
plain old X-10), associate it with some groups if you like and POOF
you're done.  Now, you can do ALL of the above commands and then some
without having to train the voices, and HAL does have customers
claiming exceptional recognition all the time with the new version.
Let's say you associated that light with some groups such as "indoor"
or "inside".  Now you can also operate as many devices as you want, by
putting them inside a group (or groups) and using a command such as
"Turn off all inside lights".  You can schedule the game room light by
saying "Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7PM turn on the game room
light for two hours" and HAL recognizes that and adds it to the
schedule.  You just DO NOT have the same power and flexibility in
HomeVoice that you have in HAL - sorry, HomeVoice clearly lost.

I can write until I am blue in the fingers, but until you go and try
HAL again, I'm afraid I just can't convince you.  Even though it looks
like I am defending HAL, which to some degree I am, it is only because
I have been running HAL in my home for a long time, and your comments
are after you tried HAL for a short time some 2-3 years ago I believe.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot - the other reason you dislike HAL is because
HAL has not put out the version with the concatenated speech engine.
Well I have news for you, nobody else has either.  Despite what you
might think, the industry experts say that the synthetic speech engine
HAL is currently using is one of the best.  I suppose the nearest
rival is the hybrid one by Microsoft, but certainly not the one
HomeVoice has.  At any rate, HAL has been hampered by the L&H
situation but is still planning the release of the concatenated speech
engine add-on so you can have the human voice TTS engine.

So drop me a line sometime and let me know what you mean by HAL's
defensiveness preventing them from fixing problems.  As far as I can
recall, up until this recent upgrade, HAL has provided many updates
and new features without charging a thing to their customers.  Major
new features were provided for free as well, and many issues are
resolved at EVERY software release HAL has.  Perhaps HAL just fixes
the issues reported by its users instead of heresay from people who
have opinions based upon their wants and perceptions.

I have spent time in the trenches of home automation - besides working
for HAL I had my own installation business years ago.  According to
what I have seen, you have yet to venture out into the professional
home automation ranks, so your opinions of what is right for a
worldwide product like HAL are still based upon a single source - you.
I happen to think that while I give it my best shot to keep getting
more features in the HAL software, they have definitely got everything
going for them in what the average consumer needs.

Rick

 
 
 

advice appreciated (expert or novice)

Post by Jim Lips » Thu, 19 Jul 2001 12:38:36


Rick_Tin...@hp.deletethis.com (Rick Tinker) wrote in message <news:9j04ph$jln$1@bob.news.rcn.net>...
> On Wed, 06 Jun 2001 17:32:48 -0700, Andrew Ward <aw...@cisco.com>
> wrote:

> (snip)

> >I have used 2 products: HomeVoice and HAL2000. Forget Hal Pro or
> >whatever they call it this week. True vaporware. The NEXT version
> >of HAL, probably out this summer, holds some promise. Get a really
> >FAST PC however, with plenty of memory. Plan on occasional reboots.
> >Don't plan on running anything else on the PC, at this time.

> >I use Homevoice. It doesn't have nearly the features HAL does/will,
> >but it is a rock-solid product. It is a user-dependant voice
> >recognition system, and will have to be trained, unkile HAL,
> >but the reliability is surperb. It integrates perfectly with
> >the HAI & AMP systems AND produces IR commands for your
> >AV system. HAL suffers from less intergation with HAI and
> >Applied Digital products, but the upcoming release will
> >support the Leopard and its headless brother, the Ocelot.
> >One problem is that HAL is very defensive about their
> >products and this often hinders them from really solving
> >problems.

> Andrew, Andrew, Andrew... Why the constant bad vibes towards HAL
> buddy?  I mean you claim to be open to give it a fair try, but since
> trying it years ago all I read from you are negative comments.

> HAL has to be defensive about their software because it is worth
> defending!  Since I no longer work for HAL, you can't say that they
> are defending it anymore!  It must be defended against people making
> claims about it who have absolutely no appreciable experience with it.

> Let's get this put behind us once and for all.  HAL shipped the new
> version.  Go get it, try it, and start printing fact instead of
> perception.  The new, less expensive products HALbasic and HALdeluxe
> start shipping as soon as the CDs and packaging arrive from
> manufacturing.  Wait for those if you like, but don't talk about HAL
> without experiencing the new version yourself.

> HAL has won awards at virtually all of the trade shows it has been at
> lately, including the "Best of CES" from TechTV last year.  It seems
> pretty clear that of all the home automation products out there, it is
> the best.  Now it may not be right for somebody who wants to get into
> the guts of the thing or as you have asked for several times -- the
> ability to do anything and all you can ever ask for -- but it sure
> seems to be doing the trick for most of the people who buy it.

> Let's get a few other facts down pat:  HomeVoice is dead.  Sorry to
> Steve, you're a great programmer and I know you're trying hard - but
> truth is that HomeVoice is a one person company and does not have the
> resources to do some really great things.  HomeVoice does not allow
> you to control your home from anywhere.  You don't even have to spend
> $2000 on the good mixer and microphone network to get great
> recognition from HAL - just pick up a phone in your house.  Total
> cost: $70 modem and the HAL software.  Big deal.  That modem then also
> allows you to talk to your house from remote locations - you can't do
> that with HomeVoice!  HAL has the Internet, Voicemail, and more
> interfaces than HomeVoice too.  Best of all, you DO NOT have to train
> it.  What you mention as a means of achieving great recognition is
> actually a complete pain in the butt for anybody I have talked to that
> was honest about HomeVoice.

> Let's say you have a fairly average family of two adults and two kids,
> and the kids are teenagers.  That's four speakers in the house.  Now
> then - add a device such as the "Game Room Light".  Assume that you
> want to be able to operate the light a couple of different ways - e.g.
> "Turn on the game room light" or "Turn the game room light on" or even
> "Turn on game room light" if you didn't care about your grammer...  OK
> - that's 3 different phrases which have to be trained for 4 different
> speakers, which is a total of 12 different phrases that have to be
> taught to HomeVoice.  Now then, let's say you want to be able to dim
> that same light to, oh, let's say 6 or 7 different levels.  That's an
> additional 24 phrases to be taught to HomeVoice at a minimum.
> Looking at it from the HAL perspective, you enter the name of the
> device "GAME ROOM LIGHT" (or perhaps "Andrews Light" since HAL does
> not force you to predefined words), tell the system it's address and
> some characteristics about it (e.g. preset dim, extended data, or
> plain old X-10), associate it with some groups if you like and POOF
> you're done.  Now, you can do ALL of the above commands and then some
> without having to train the voices, and HAL does have customers
> claiming exceptional recognition all the time with the new version.
> Let's say you associated that light with some groups such as "indoor"
> or "inside".  Now you can also operate as many devices as you want, by
> putting them inside a group (or groups) and using a command such as
> "Turn off all inside lights".  You can schedule the game room light by
> saying "Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7PM turn on the game room
> light for two hours" and HAL recognizes that and adds it to the
> schedule.  You just DO NOT have the same power and flexibility in
> HomeVoice that you have in HAL - sorry, HomeVoice clearly lost.

> I can write until I am blue in the fingers, but until you go and try
> HAL again, I'm afraid I just can't convince you.  Even though it looks
> like I am defending HAL, which to some degree I am, it is only because
> I have been running HAL in my home for a long time, and your comments
> are after you tried HAL for a short time some 2-3 years ago I believe.

> Oh yeah, I almost forgot - the other reason you dislike HAL is because
> HAL has not put out the version with the concatenated speech engine.
> Well I have news for you, nobody else has either.  Despite what you
> might think, the industry experts say that the synthetic speech engine
> HAL is currently using is one of the best.  I suppose the nearest
> rival is the hybrid one by Microsoft, but certainly not the one
> HomeVoice has.  At any rate, HAL has been hampered by the L&H
> situation but is still planning the release of the concatenated speech
> engine add-on so you can have the human voice TTS engine.

> So drop me a line sometime and let me know what you mean by HAL's
> defensiveness preventing them from fixing problems.  As far as I can
> recall, up until this recent upgrade, HAL has provided many updates
> and new features without charging a thing to their customers.  Major
> new features were provided for free as well, and many issues are
> resolved at EVERY software release HAL has.  Perhaps HAL just fixes
> the issues reported by its users instead of heresay from people who
> have opinions based upon their wants and perceptions.

> I have spent time in the trenches of home automation - besides working
> for HAL I had my own installation business years ago.  According to
> what I have seen, you have yet to venture out into the professional
> home automation ranks, so your opinions of what is right for a
> worldwide product like HAL are still based upon a single source - you.
> I happen to think that while I give it my best shot to keep getting
> more features in the HAL software, they have definitely got everything
> going for them in what the average consumer needs.

> Rick

--------------------------

Andrew,

I have been using the latest version of HAL 2000 1.3.23 for over a
month (I was beta testing for some time) and it is simply incredible.
I too have a Whole House Audio system, which uses a Shure SCM-810 and
PZM-10 & 11 Microphones.  Once I got the mixer and sound card dialed
in to the correct levels I was shocked how accurately HAL 2000 can be.
I have easily integrated the Ocelot and several Adicon Modules to
control just about everything in the house.  I am working on a web
page to outline all of the features and "how-to" and will post the
link back on this forum when I get it finished.  Check out this recent
article published in the Wall Street Journal touching on HAL 2000 and
my house:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/571997.asp

I was also one who originally purchased the HAL product before this
latest release and I can tell you that there has been a ton of
changes.  Functionality, reliability, flexibility has all been
improved. There are so many things that are great about HAL.  I like
the ability to create macros with voice commands.  I'm constantly
thinking of new ones and it literally takes minutes to build them even
while integrating Thermostats, telephone, security system, X-10 ....
I also like the fact that ANYTHING I can do in the house through the
microphones can also be done through ANY handset in the house or any
phone in the world.  I'm constantly using my cell phone to control the
house (much more practical than a computer via the web at this point.)
 I have rules that page my AT&T cell phone if I receive e-mail or
voice mail messages then I retrieve them remotely with my cell phone.

HAL does a great job with caller ID where it can selectively play
greetings to callers based on the caller ID.  I have any TV or CD /
DVD (if it is on) mute or pause when the phone rings.  I have any TV
that is on tune to the front door camera if the door bell rings.  If I
am not home (alarm is armed) and the door bell rings the VCR records
the front door camera, AND pages me, AND plays a BARKING DOG wave file
(that is quite convincing.)  All this is easily controlled in HAL's
rules area.

I could go on all night about this product.

You really have to give it a try.

Nothing else comes close.

If you are ever in Florida (Boynton Beach area) Stop by.

Thanks,

Jim Lipsit

 
 
 

1. novice designer seeks expert advice. help!


Hi there,

When scanning images for reproduction/offset printing, keep these points in
mind:

1. Always scan to final size - if the image needs to be enlarged, use the
scanner to scale the image to the final size

2. Scan at a resolution that is twice the final linescreen of the printing
press - most offset printers use 133 to 150 lines per inch (LPI) so 300dpi
is sufficient. Newsprint can go as low as 60 lpi, magazine to 200 lpi and
higher. Always request this specification from your printing company as
different paper stock may require different screens.

3. While you can reduce the image in the layout, do not enlarge the image
greater than 10% otherwise the effective resolution is decreased - fixed
number of pixels stretched over a wide area. The image will look pixelated.

4. Always adjust the image to suit the printing process - highlights to a
minimum of 2-3% black for grayscale or 5C/2M/2Y/2K for full colour,
midtones to 35-40% black (process colour depends on image colour), and
shadow to 85-95% black maximum or 80C/70M/70Y/75K.

5. TIFF is most common for desktop colour work. EPS is only necessary for
images where clipping paths have been created in PhotoShop, or when a
desired preview is requested (see Save As... options for preview options
when saving EPS).

Yours,
Andrew

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